Reviewed: Terminator Genisys

That a “Terminator” movie without Arnold Schwarzenegger just does not work, has already been proven six years ago by “Charlie’s Angels” -creator McG with the emotionfree battle “Terminator Salvation”. But now Arnie is back after two terms as governor of California – and the fifth blockbuster series can actually only benefit from this, though not nearly as much as hoped.

“Thor 2 – The Dark Kingdom” director Alan Taylor sets in Terminator:Genisys, similar to JJ Abrams in his “Star Trek” -reboot, on the creation of an alternate timeline. But where Abrams had the chance to begin on zero and took advantage of this to have as much fun with Kirk & Co without superfluous franchise ballast, Taylor tangled increasingly in an unnecessarily complicated (not to be confused with “complex”) journey construct. Especially in the second half of his movie the characters are eventually more preoccupied with explaining the action than with anything else. With this some successful running gags (terrific: the grinning Terminator) are only working conditionally.

In 2029 his troops in Colorado are on the verge of destroying the core of Skynet, while revolutionary leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) attacked a base in Los Angeles. On this, a new wonder of the machines is located, a wonder which could seal the fate of mankind in one fell swoop. And indeed, Skynet can, with the help of a time machine, just before it was shut down, send a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) into 1984 to eliminate Sarah Connor – because when Sarah dies, her son John will never be born and Skynet will never fall. For that reason he is sending out his best man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), so that he protects his mother. But then it turns out that Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) is not as expected a helpless waitress, but a well prepared Badass Action Amazone with a terminator (also Arnold Schwarzenegger) as personal protector…

Genisys

If you have seen the original “Terminator” and its sequel “Terminator 2 – Judgment Day” recently again or remember it well in your head anyways, you will certainly have fun with the first forty-five minutes of “Terminator: Genisys”. This one is  bursting with allusions to the predecessors, for example with Lee Byung-hun as T-1000 in the liquid footsteps of Robert Patrick. Some scenes were even directly taken from the classics (so the terrified looking garbage truck driver on arrival of the T-800 ). Thanks to the alternate timelines there is, an also trick technically surprisingly good (and worlds better than Schwarzenegger CGI cameo in “Salvation”),  battle between a young and an old Arnie. Although Director Alan Taylor never matches the class of the first two parts – but till here “Genisys” is at least a worthy and entertaining tribute to the mastery of a James Cameron.

After another time jump it is time for “Genisys” to stand on its own – but this is not working in my opinion, reason for this is that director Taylor is much too busy to let his characters explain the not particularly exciting plot. Where there was some emotion between 30 years ago between Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese, there is no chemistry between Emilia Clarke (“Game Of Thrones”) and Jai Courtney (“Die Hard 5”). Not even the smallest spark – and in the moments in which it would be really dramatic, instead there is only unintentional comedy (about the revelation of family relationships for example). Even with Clarke wearing leather jacket and shotgun she acts aside Schwarzenegger and Courtney until the end like a helpless girl. Here she can learn still a whole lot of real action Amazons as Hamilton in “Terminator 2″ or Charlize Theron in ” Mad Max: Fury Road “. The action scenes themselves are all staged solid, but there is no one that would stand out from this summer blockbuster in any form – even though right in the first scene complete San Francisco is razed to the ground.

Jason Clarke (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”) has as John Connor at least a promising twist on his side – but this one was, against the will of the director, already leaked in the trailers. On the other hand, the ethical and technological implications are not pursued amy further (criticizing companies like Apple looks not for a second thoughtful, but is solely based on a general technique panic). So all that remains at the end of Schwarzenegger to save the show – and he succeeds for long periods really good. In addition to the robot grin-running gag of the now 67-year-old muscleman, he also takes his own age with the necessary self-deprecation for a ride – and his deliberately emotionless Oneliner (he is and remains just a machine) is sitting today as safe as three decades ago. The only problem: Although he is the only announced star of the film even before the Title shows, Schwarzenegger plays on the side of the real protagonists Sarah and Kyle actually only a greater supporting role. So should it give as planned two more “Terminator” films , my demand remains the same as for after “Salvation”: We want to see more Arnie!

Verdict: As long as director Alan Taylor tributes to James Cameron’s original, “Genisys” makes really fun. But as soon as he tries to stand on his own feet, it fails unfortunately quickly. Nevertheless a must see for Terminator and Schwarzenegger fans.

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